Luke Humphries stands out as a human hero amid the bluster and bravado of darts | Jonathan Liew

‘Cool Hand Luke’ is often dismissed as boring but he has overcome personal hurdles to become the world’s best player

The thing about Luke Humphries, you see, is that there isn’t a thing. No instant hook. Nothing that marks him out as heroic or villainous or freakish or physically arresting. There’s no “Come Dine With Me” trick. He’s a man of regular height and regular build with a regular name. And by this point you’re probably wondering who the hell Luke Humphries is and why there’s an entire column devoted to this entirely normal man who appears, on the basis of the accompanying picture, to play darts. But first things first. Let’s explain the “Come Dine With Me” trick.

If you’ve never watched Come Dine With Me on Channel 4, at the start of the show we meet the five members of the public who are going to be cooking for each other. But an episode of Come Dine With Me only lasts 23 minutes, which is not nearly enough time for these people to be introduced properly, and so each contestant is invariably condensed to a single cartoonish trait. Sally’s a diving instructor, so for the entire episode she will be known as “Scuba Diving Sally”, complete with the full repertoire of nautical puns. Chris, who likes heavy metal, will only ever be described as “Head Banger Chris”. This is how popular entertainment expresses the breathtaking complexity of human experience: hinterland, back story and internal contradiction all flattened into a catchy three-word shorthand.

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